Part 62: I really thought I was going to end up multi-posting again.
Chapter 48 - I really thought I was going to end up multi-posting again.
Onwards! Onwards to the next level!
I am quite real, I assure you. Or as real as anything is.
Yakman once think he was real. Talk-talk-talk all the time, his friends say. We come here to look for treasure... now only Yakman left alive. Lonely Yakman! W-wait! You speak? Illusions that speak?! No! Demons covered in illusions! M-m-must get away from the demons, sneak away! Sneaky Yakman!!
Oh I really hope the entire floor isn't like that.
We followed the crazy through the portal and spoke with him again.
Calm down, calm down. Look closer at me... I'm all human.
Oh, well that's okay, then.
Uhhh... okay. Just who are you, exactly?
Yakman not remember. Forgetful Yakman. Yakman has been Yakman for so long, wandering here, he cannot remember being anything other than Yakman.
Well, just how long have you been here?
Yakman here a long, long time. Yakman come with friends long time ago, friends who want to look for treasure. Yakman want treasure, too! Rich Yakman! Friends get things for ritual as Yakman watch. Statues come to life, then, and poor Yakman escape through portal. Cowardly Yakman! Friends die. Yakman stuck here. Lonely Yakman.
You mentioned something about demons.
Lots of demons, yes. Lots of scary demons! Frightened Yakman! Yakman run run run away when demons close... that not so hard because demons are always fighting each other!
What can you tell me about this level?
Yakman run run run around all the time. Yakman knows this place really well, yes indeedy. Knowledgable Yakman! Maze of portals, portals lead to rooms rooms and more rooms! Some rooms have demons. Scary demons. Demons come through portals, sometimes. Demons angry, can't get out. Yakman know way out, though. Smart Yakman!
The way out? To the next level? How does someone get out?
Yakman know... know way out, but... ummm. Way out is broken. Yakman not mean to break it, but is broken. Stupid, stupid Yakman!
What's broken? Is it fixable?
Maze lead to big cavern with portal, portal is way out. Yakman know this! Smart Yakman! But... Yakman trip and break portal. Portal broken! Clumsy Yakman! Now portal broken. Demons come through portal. Demons come and be trapped in maze because portal broken. Portal must be fixed with rod, Yakman knows!
Fixed with a rod? What rod are you talking about?
Yakman has rod, but... rod broken, too. Rod need three gems and gems fall off when Yakman run. Yakman not know where gems are. You can have rod... in junk pile, it is. Generous Yakman!
How do I reach this cavern where the broken portal is?
Yakman forget. Yakman always forget. Forgetful Yakman! Yakman write it down in journal... must be around here somewhere...
Thank you, Yakman. Why don't you... go to sleep or something?
You want Yakman to sleep? Yakman never sleep!
You never sleep? You must sleep. If you didn't sleep, it would drive you... oh.
Yakman used to sleep, long time ago. But it get cold, so cold. Frozen Yakman! Demons come and it get cold. No sleep make Yakman go crazy, Yakman knows. Crazy Yakman!
Then just be quiet. I have things to do.
Yakman wait here, then. Yakman keep watch for the demons. Paranoid Yakman. Well... not really paranoid since demons really come, oh yes.
One casting of Heal later...
I think the spell may have worked. How do you feel, Yakman?
'Yakman'? That... that was that ridiculous nickname that atrocious little halfling kept calling me. My name is Tamorlin. Wh... where is my party? Where am I?
This is the Watcher's Keep. You've been here alone for quite some time, by the looks of it.
The... Watcher's Keep. That all seems... so long ago. I remember I tried to use the Staff of Radiance to restore the damage done to the portal, and... and that's it. Thank you, truly, for restoring my mind to one piece. I... I would have wandered here, forever, I think. I must get out and return to my life, whatever is left of it. Is the level above clear?
Yes, I believe it still is.
Then I shall go through the entrance portal and leave. I do not know why I didn't, before... too afraid, I suppose. I cannot thank you enough, my lord, for freeing me. Fare you well!
In that room were the Bard's Gloves which Cespenar was able to mix with some gems to create the Wondrous Gloves, Scepter of Radiance, and Yakman - er, Tamorlin's journal. It contained the secret to getting the hell out of this stupid place. Well, if one had the complete Scepter of Radiance, anyway.
The Blood War is big on this level - there are opposing factions of Baatezu and Tanar'ri. This floor also has some annoying effects in some rooms - for example, this room is a dead magic zone. Note the Miscast Magic effect present on everyone. Also, this stone pillar is solid to anyone not of Lawful Good alignment. Fortunately for completeness, Aerie is around and can activate it for us.
The pillar contained Purifier.
In the next room, Tanar'ri.
What are you talking about? What is this Blood War?
We tanar'ri have been drawn here to this interminable maze... and we know not why. Try though we might, the planes be closed to us. Our ancient foes of the Blood War, fiends of Baator, are in this maze as well. We have little doubt that it is their machinations which have trapped us here. Their destruction will free us, I be sure. But the baatezu be strong, indeed... it has been a challenge to... hmmm. Perhaps thou, mortal, might... nay. Nay, thou hast the stench of order and good on thee. Best to kill thee now and be done with it.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Time Stop is fun.
I took the demon's heart as a trophy, and it had one of the three scepter gems.
Next room held some devils and another dead magic zone, nothing special.
Succubus in the next room.
So... what do you think of our little maze-prison,male mortal? Oh, do not look upon us so suspiciously. We do not seek to hurt you... much. [giggle!] If you wish, my alou sisters and I will be more than glad to lead you through this endless maze to the end, where you can find the cavern with the portal out of this place. It is your choice, dear mortal.
You'll lead me through here? What's the catch?
Nothing more than a kiss, dear one. A little piece of your life energies, nothing more than a taste, and we shall bring you on your way. [giggle!] You can afford it, mortal... what do you say?
I'd say it's time to die, demon.
Ah! It is time for us to make sport, my alou sisters! Come, let us dance!
What are you talking about? What is this Blood War?
To this maze we have been brought, led by the force we long have sought. We wish to return to Baator again... but our attempts to Gate are all in vain. Our ancient Blood War foes... the tanar'ri [hisss]... are also in this place. No doubt they are responsible for the plight we now face. But the tanar'ri be too strong; our battles have been many and long. You have great power, mortal, it is true... kill the baalor, Tahazzar, and be rewarded by the baatezu.
This tanar'ri you speak of... I have already destroyed the demon, and I have its heart, here.
You have the heart of the baalor! You have our gratitude forever more. (hisss) Strange, though, that we still cannot gate... perhaps the tanar'ri had naught to do with our fate?
They gave me the Thieves' Hood, and then I attacked them, because that's just kinda what I do. Oh, and Cespenar improved the Thieves' Hood.
Gained the next Scepter Gem from that one.
These guys were stupid. You can't see it here, but there was a blue one as well. The red one summoned Fire Salamanders and the blue one summoned Ice Salamanders and they did it very fast and it was quite stupid.
Runes on a pillar blah blah blah.
Wild Magic room!
Totally the best room in the entire goddamn game. Everybody who can cast spells is a Wild Mage!
There were also some tieflings but they were dumb.
Hey, it's basically the Neb fight again!
Make that exactly the Neb fight again!
This room has, just kinda chillin' on the floor, some white dragon scales. They make cold resisting armor of studded leather class and -2 AC and there's no way to tell they're there aside from compulsive looting/foreknowledge.
I keep finding the journals of dead men. This one talked about the betrayal of the Knights of the Vigil. Ominous!
And through the final portal, to the final area of the floor!
Not all of us be Primes, my fair Cambion. Some of us be only visitors to this wondrous place.
I wouldn't know about 'wondrous', but 'tis fair enough... for what little I have seen. Hmm... a tiefling, is it? You remind me of an actor I once saw, in a play, in a dream.
And you remind me of a remarkably pleasant fellow named Aesgareth, so unlike the usual child of a fiend. But my fellows would not know of you, of course. Perhaps an introduction is in order?
Pardon my atrocious manners. I sometimes forget that you Primes are civilized. My name is Aesgareth, and these are my servants and pets.
My name is Asim. Ahhh... pleased to meet you, too.
Well, now. Nice to meet someone pleasant, instead of a host of frustrated fiends. Had to destroy several after we found ourselves here, the rude beasts. But what does one expect from the lower planes, eh? Me, I'll take Sigil any day, and avoid the Blood War entirely. But that's neither here nor there. We found ourselves in this place after being... drawn, somehow. I imagine the magic of the broken portal on the east side of this cavern has something to do with that. Wherever this place is, it allows me to gate in things... minor things... but not to open a gate back out. Interesting, no? I could gate out of this place, but the magic here is very powerful and specific. Likely I need some manner of key to pierce the shields of this place. Do you know of such a thing?
I might. Why should I let you out?
I wouldn't expect you to let me out of here based on the goodness of your heart... but I'll play you for it. Allow me to explain: I have a certain penchant for games of chance. I enjoy all kinds of gambling, but today I have something with me of particular interest. You see, I just finished winning a Deck of Many Things from a relative of mine, Duke Rowan. It's a beautiful deck, a variation on the norm by a Genasi wizard of some repute.
So he wants to play a game? Minsc and Boo are fond of all sorts of games, although Boo is far better at the ones that need strategy. I am sad to say that I am far better at straight-forward butt-kicking.
Ah, yes. Aesgareth is well-known amongst certain circles as being most fascinated in his gambling pursuits. Above even interest in his own health, my raven...'tis a most unhealthy thing.
I'm eager to try it. I'll play you for the item that exits this place... or other things, if you've something of value. What do you say, Asim? Pique your interest at all?
I might be. I'd have to think about it.
Well, here's something to entice you. I have a gem... I believe its magic has something to do with the broken portal behind me. I'll wager it for the way out of this place. But you'll probably wish to prepare yourself and so forth. Take as much time as you need. It *is* a Deck of Many Things, after all, and not for the faint of heart. If you or some companion of yours is ready to play, come and speak to me. Unless, of course, you're too frightened...
I'm ready. What are the stakes?
Well, first you must offer a wager. A tiny portion of your soul, like... hmmm... experience or vitality. Or wager whatever allows me to leave this place. Keep in mind, though, that I'll only wager the gem for the way out of here. And, don't worry... whatever it is, you'll get it back when I go.
I will wager some of my experience.
Excellent. I have access to a Spectral Brand and a Scroll of Wish, both rather impressive items. And there is the gem, as well. What would you wish to play for?
I will play for the Spectral Brand.
As you wish. Alright, my friend... I shall allow you to draw from the deck first. I shall spread out the cards for you like so. Choose a card as soon as you are ready. 'Strife'? A decent draw, although I wonder what the effect will be.
I seem to be slowed.
Interesting. Most interesting. The Genasi was a genius, if you ask me. Now, of course it is my turn. You may wish to step back... just in case. 'Triumph'? Ahhhh... I sense a fight oncoming. Give me a few moments, my friend. So... that is it? A dangerous game, and yet it seems we have survived relatively unscathed, yes? The card you drew is of a higher suit than mine, however. You have won the draw! You desire the Spectral Brand, and here it is. If you wish to play again, I'd appreciate a chance to gain my freedom, friend.
Actually, I'd like to play for the Scroll of Wish, first.
As you wish. Alright, my friend... I shall allow you to draw from the deck first. I shall spread out the cards for you like so. Choose a card as soon as you are ready. 'Strength'. An extremely high suit. I wonder, though, whether this represents growing stronger... or a lack of strength? A curse, perhaps? Do you have a means of breaking curses, mortal?
Yeah, yeah, I'll be fine. Oof.
Now, of course it is my turn. You may wish to step back... just in case. Ah. The 'Empress'. An excellent card with a high suit. Luck is with me today! The card you drew is of a higher suit than mine, however. You have won the draw! You desire the Scroll of Wish, and here it is. If you wish to play again, I'd appreciate a chance to gain my freedom, friend.
Yyyyeah, about that. I'm just going to kill you and take that Deck of Many Things and the last gem. I just do that sort of thing.
Wish is a really neat spell and I will elaborate on how it is among the most game-breaking things later. For now I shall stick to the game-breaking things I already have.
After the fight, I had the completed Scepter of Radiance and the Deck of Many Things.
Yes, I cheated on this next part. You can't get the best draws if you don't take a bad draw in the starting round.
The result of 'JESTER' is +50k Quest Experience for the person drawing.
'KEY' gives the Ring of Protection +3. I probably should have gone for 'STAR' for +1 INT primary stat for someone, or 'SUN' for 300k shared XP but I did not. It will not show up if the first draw was a 'good' card.
'THRONE' is probably the best draw possible at any point, arguably 'STAR' if you are near a break point in a primary stat. + 1 million shared XP. It will not show up if you did not have a bad draw.
'BALANCE' is invariably the fourth and final draw. It takes away the Deck of Many Things, and if you feel like cheating up another, it will still draw 'BALANCE' unless you set the global variable back to something less than three.
And that was the end of that floor! Well, after a dose of anyway.
No, lass, I'm not hurt and the limp is not new. I've had it as long as you've known me. 'Tis a wooden leg you see. I was smuggling crackers into Waterdeep several years back the Council had outlawed them due to near constant cracker-related debauchery, you see... I couldn't let THAT pass... The Council had sealed off all ports and mobilized the army to stop illegal cracker entry. The city was shut down, martial law was declared and people huddled in their homes for fear and want of crackers. I could not stand idly by while such persecution was visited on the somewhat innocent peoples of Waterdeep. So I smuggled crackers. Salted, unsalted and herb-riddled alike, it mattered not. All came in and all were consumed in secret orgies of cracker-related tomfoolery. Then came the unpleasant business with the hanging. I hadn't seen Picklefeather's eyes bulge like that since that wyvern kicked him in the ba...oops! Innocent elvish lass, have to watch the tongue uh... in the arm yes, that will do. The moral of the story is, you reap what you steal. I still own a warehouse full of saltines. I send a box to all of my friends each year. Seem to have fewer friends each year as a result, but that's to be expected.
What does that have to do with your wooden leg?
What wooden leg? I have no wooden leg.
Grrr! You're IMPOSSIBLE!
Why yes, I suppose I am, at that. [grin]
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a mildly bizarre sight.
I'm Asim. I have been sent by Odren to find the Imprisoned One. Who are you?
Odren? Imprisoned One? Those names mean nothing to me. Who you are is not really important, anyway. I'm the only one who matters around here. I am Carston the Magnificent, Lord of the Level!
Uh... fine. Tell me, Carston the Magnificent, how did you become Lord of the Level?
Do not look at me as if I am insane. I'm just a victim of circumstance, is all. Making the best of a bad situation. It's an interesting story, really. About ten years ago I was an adventurer, much like you. I came with my apprentices to explore this dungeon, seeking fame and fortune. What I found was this machine, the most amazing creation I'd ever seen.
You must mean that strange machine you're in. What is it?
Glad you asked. This fascinating device beside me is the Machine of Lum the Mad. With it I can summon creatures to entertain me, and then unleash my wrath upon them when I get bored.
But how did you end up inside that glass?
Ahhh... the glass casing. Well, you see, I didn't actually mean to create it. The Machine of Lum the Mad can be a fickle mistress. Actions have consequences which cannot be undone.
So you fiddled with the machine, and it blew up in your face. Now you're trapped. How poetic.
Trapped? You misunderstand: this glass protects me. It makes me impervious to harm. I need neither food nor sustenance. Even the ravages of time can no longer touch me. I have become immortal!
But surely you must want to be free? What good is immortality if you're stuck in one place forever?
I, Carston the Magnificent, Lord of the Level, grow weary of your chatter. Time to make things more interesting!
Things that level drain are vaguely annoying.
Through the northern door, illithidy goodness! Also Umber Hulks.
Another note to be had.
In a prison cell, one of Carston's apprentices.
Never tell me what? What are you talking about?
I told you fiends - Carston deserves to stay in that glass forever! I will never let him escape!
How do you know Carston?
You - you are not one of those... monsters. You cannot help me. Just let me die in peace, I beg you.
Please, just a few questions.
My wounds run deep, my time is almost done. But... I shall answer your questions if I am able.
How do you know Carston?
Carston was... my master. He brought me, and his other apprentices, to this horrid place many years ago, seeking long forbidden knowledge buried within the depths of this dungeon. He led us through the traps and guardians of the upper levels of the dungeon. When we came across the Machine of Lum the Mad, he knew it was the only way to open the gate to the lower dungeon.
I knew that machine was the key to getting out of here!
Carston was foolish enough to think he could master the machine. He studied the controls, then flipped a switch - and was instantly encased in that magic shell of glass. Before we apprentices could come to his aid, that idiot Carston flipped another switch. Instantly we were surrounded by a horde of ravaging demons from another plane.
Demons. I hate demons.
We might all have survived, if that fool Carston had let us work our spells. But he panicked, and began flipping switches at random. Between the fireballs, lightning and monsters he unleashed it is a miracle I escaped with my life. My companions were not so lucky. Torn limb from limb by demons, or burnt into ash by the magic of that infernal machine. Yet Carston was unharmed, completely protected inside his glass bubble.
What a gruesome fate! It's madmen like Carston that give all us magic-users a bad name.
But even though Carston survived, he was trapped inside his prison; helpless to escape despite seeing the... no, I will not speak of that. I could have released him, but instead I left him there to rot.
Tell me how to get through that glass case of Carston's and I will avenge you!
No! I will not tell you that. He deserves to stay there for ever. Ask of me something else, if you wish. But not that. Never that.
Tell me about the creatures that captured you.
Using my wits and cunning I have survived these past ten years in this dungeon, seeking a way out. I have seen Carston grow more and more mad. He summons creatures to amuse himself; so he can watch them suffer. A few years ago he conjured up a group of illithid locked in battle with a githyanki war party. Since then the two groups have survived in this place - the illithid in the northwest and the githyanki in the south.
And you were stuck in the middle.
The creatures waste their time battling each other, or launching futile attacks upon Carston in his glass case. I avoided the monsters until some months ago, when the illithid finally caught me. The illithid sensed I knew the secret of Carston's cage. They tortured me in body, mind and spirit - but I would not talk. Carston will never be free.
Is there nothing I can do to help you?
I am beyond your power to either help or harm. [cough] The tortures of the illithid cannot be undone. I... embrace the darkness.
In two rooms at the ends of tunnels, we found two rod halves which combined to form the full rod.
There was a large vat which held some Red Oil.
When we took the oil, the two prison pods in the chamber opened, releasing the anticlimax held within.
As Carston's apprentice told us, the south end held Githyanki.
Found some flint and tinder and another note.
Eventually we slaughtered our way to the Githyanki captain.
The Illithid are dead. I have killed them all.
A debt to you. We repay with your lives. Surrender and live to serve Githyanki.
Are you saying my reward for killing the Illithids is to surrender myself into a life of slavery?
No parlay - blades for tongues. All answers found in death! Githyanki attack!
See that, Asim... you just can't reason with the Gith. Must be something to do with those spelljammer ships they ride around in - gives them extra-planar cabin fever. This reminds me of the time I was selling astral turnips on the outer planes. Opened a little shop with a garden in the back. Astral turnips are very tasty, let me tell you, but not too filling. My crop could barely keep up with the demand. One morning I was sitting down to a nice turnip porridge breakfast when I was interrupted by a herd of githyanki barging through my door. Seems they had an interesting offer for me...
Shut your mouth, gnome! There's killing to be done and your windbag words are distracting me!
Ah, true enough I suppose. Remind to finish this story later... truly one of my best.
Babbling ceases - blades bring silence! Attack!
He had Angurvadal and a diary belonging to one of Carston's apprentices. The vat next to him had Purple Oil in it, and the large thing that looked suspiciously like a dragon skull next to him had Montolio's Clasp stuck between the teeth. Cespenar repaired the cloak with it.
Oh son of a -
This is like a hundred energy blades right here.
The demi-lich had a Dagger of the Star.
I wonder how no one saw fit to tell me about the red dragon...
Basically he just bragged a lot and it was quite boring. I killed him, since killing dragons is great sport. Took a bit, but down he went.
You can get him to tell you some pretty useful things, but nothing you can't get from anywhere else.
He had the Staff of the Ram, which Cespenar made a whole hell of a lot better.
The Staff of the Ram is one of the best possible weapons if you're going to play a Kensai/Thief, since before factoring in strength bonuses a x5 backstab combined with Kai is an immediate 110 damage.
I... Yuan-ti? Seriously?
Ah, a magic golem. Luckily Sarevok had a trusty mundane sword.
As with the other possible magic golem fight, there's a couple conveniently-placed containers stuffed with mundane weapons.
And there was the blue oil. To the south, killer mimics and some associated minor loot.
Here you can see the six tiles that were the way to solve the torch puzzle.
Aaaand the lit torches themselves, just before the doors opened and they extinguished.
I shall split their bones and drink my mead from their skulls!
One of them had the Axe of the Unyielding, which Cespenar was able to significantly improve. In one of the boxes was the crystal mallet needed to open Carston's glass casing.
As the journal of Carston's apprentice told me, I tapped the case six times.
Tell me how to use the Machine of Lum the Mad and I will let you live.
All I knew was how to summon monsters and shoot off fireballs or lightning bolts. (sob!) I was too afraid to try anything else. It's the truth, I swear!
Then you are of no use to me - time to die, Carston!
Well, I'm not going down without a fight!!
Turns out he was lying, since his journal detailed how to open the portal.
However, it was time to use the various recipes of Lum the Mad we had been finding! First came Storm Star, followed by... Well, see for yourself.
And since the screenshot seems to have gone missing, Haer'Dalis gained +1 to Dexterity.
In addition, you can just randomly hit buttons and get random results.
Some mod or other, I forget which, added in a lot of effects I don't remember. By default I believe the bad effects are only for it to hit you with a lightning bolt, poison you, and maybe a fireball. The good effects are a random potion and a one-time +100k quest experience to one character, which I eventually got for Asim.
The new effects that I encountered are to have 15 levels drained away and Imprisonment. I mostly rolled Imprisonment. On Asim, since I wanted him to get the 100k XP. For fucking half an hour.
Finally, I used the machine to open the portal.